Omnicom, CAA in talks on alliance, acquisition

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As Omnicom Group seeks to expand its entertainment assets, one target in the holding company's sights is Creative Artists Agency, according to executives close to the situation.

The New York-based Omnicom and the Beverly Hills talent powerhouse are in talks to explore possible alliances, or even an acquisition, said one executive. Those talks have taken place over the past several months, but are still in the initial stages, the executive added.

Omnicom President-CEO John Wren couldn't be reached for comment, and Omnicom Exec VP Tom Watson wouldn't comment on CAA or any other possible deals. However, Mr. Watson did note: "Everybody is interested in looking at the entertainment business."

A CAA spokeswoman denied that acquisition talks were taking place, but added that Omnicom does talk with CAA about other business, including deals for CAA clients.


Other agency holding companies are certainly trying to leverage the power of Hollywood.

Interpublic Group of Cos. has a line into talent management and production capabilities through its Industry Entertainment division. IPG took the entertainment plunge in 1997 when it bought Addis/Wechsler & Associates, Los Angeles. Grey Global Group has expanded its entertainment unit through acquisitions and organic growth. And WPP Group bolstered its entertainment proficiency when it hired former William Morris Agency executive Marina Hahn to become VP-strategy and entertainment.

WPP Group Chairman-CEO Martin Sorrell said he is interested "several" entertainment properties, but none that he would disclose. CAA, in turn, has a history of dabbling in the advertising business. In the early 1990s, CAA teamed with Coca-Cola Co. and later launched Edge Creative to service the account. Edge folded earlier this year, but Coke recently announced it would continue to work with CAA in a consulting deal set to last through 2001.

CAA also moved into the ad world by taking a stake in New York ad agency Shepardson Stern & Kaminsky late last year.


The recent Omnicom/CAA speculation wouldn't be the first time CAA was the subject of acquisition rumors. The big three agency holding companies -- IPG, Omnicom and WPP -- have all been rumored to have had an interest in CAA in the past.

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